"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney says in one clip. "All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."
Romney's comments on the video go a step beyond his August claim, made in public, that the Obama administration's state-by-state welfare waivers were an effort to "shore up his base." In the behind-closed-doors speech to donors, Romney seems to be suggesting that nearly half of Americans expect to have all their needs supplied by the government.
"[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney also said in the video, according to Mother Jones.
As for the other 53 percent? Romney may have been referencing a meme started by conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who has noted that only 53 percent of Americans pay federal income taxes. Erickson argued that the rest of the country, and in particular the Occupy Wall Street movement, should "suck it up you whiners."
But there are a few problems with the idea of the overburdened "53 percent." Many Americans don't pay federal income taxes, in part, because of deductions like the child tax credit that have been championed by conservatives and progressives alike. Almost all of the "47 percent" do pay other federal taxes in the form of Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions and gas levies, as well as a variety of state and local sales and property taxes that aren't dependent on income.